Whether you're a college student with an entire month off from classes, or a functioning adult with a week off from your office job, you would be hard-pressed to find a better opportunity than Christmas break.
It is way too easy to let the holidays roll by when Netflix exists.
I'm willing to bet you'll feel a whole lot better if you're productive during your break. It's also easy to decide to be productive and then feel overwhelmed with the amount of things you could be doing during your time off.
My advice? Pick a few and get to it.
Here are 10 suggestions on things you should and shouldn't do, and why complying will leave you feeling more refreshed than ever when it's time to get back to your crazy life.
1. Pick one hobby to practice.
I know you want to finally learn how to play guitar.
You also want to paint a masterpiece to give to your dad for Christmas.
You want your cookie recipe to be the best option at the office party, and you want to write a best seller.
It's all good and fine, but you really don't have that much time during your break to get all of this done.
If you pick one thing to focus on, chances are you'll succeed at that one thing.
2. Make plans with the people you'd like to meet.
This is especially crucial if you're coming back to your hometown after being away at college or elsewhere.
You're probably not going to have the time to meet with each of your high school friends one-on-one, and you probably won't be able to squeeze in your ex-boyfriend.
Plan a dinner party with your high school friends or ex-coworkers, and make sure you see your grandparents before you worry about your ex.
3. Don't sleep in every day.
I know, it's tempting.
But think of all the things you could now be doing that you didn't have time to do while you're working or in school. Take a few days at the start of your break (depending on how long your break is) to sleep a little later than you normally would.
Then, try this new fangled thing where you go to bed before 3 am, and then wake up at a decent human hour.
Eat breakfast, shower, get dressed and get sh*t done.
4. Give back to your community.
While there are thousands upon thousands of options for you to donate your time and money throughout the year, now you have some time off to actually participate in a meaningful way.
Go hand out food at your local shelter, go Christmas shopping for the kids who wouldn't otherwise get a visit from Santa, and if you're feeling extra generous, donate your Christmas bonus to your favorite charity.
5. Plan for next year.
True, planning is probably the least exciting thing you can do (unless you're super type-A like me and would gladly make schedules for sport). Planning ahead is very necessary, though.
I mean, when else are you going to have the time to make your calendar?
Go through and mark off the days you're absolutely sure you're busy.
Write down some deadlines and make a list of goals for the new year.
This is a good time to do some "spring" cleaning as well.
6. Write letters to yourself.
You won't realize how meaningful this is until you've done it.
Look back at your year and think about the things you didn't say, then put a positive spin on it by writing letters to the people that you didn't say those things to.
Wait a few days, then pull the letters back out of the box or wherever you stored them, and read them out loud to yourself.
Do you still want to say those things?
If so, meet that person for lunch. Tell them.
If not, rip up the letter or store the box somewhere that you'll remember but don't leave it in plain sight.
Look through it again next year and see if your feelings have changed.
7. Create a new year "fun" box.
It's easy to look back at your year and remember the bad parts more than the good.
Decorate a cute little box (if you're crafty like that), and remind yourself to drop in a little note every time you do something great in 2016.
When it comes time to make your 2017 box, go through this one first and remind yourself how great 2016 actually was.
8. Spend some time reading.
No one wants to function like a human being upon returning home from work or school.
That's why Netflix is so popular.
All you have to do is press play and let it roll.
You'll be a lot less stressed during your holiday break, so it's the perfect time to sit down with a book.
I highly recommend doing so in front of a fire.
If you don't have a fire, there's an app for that. I also recommend wearing a onesie and sipping hot chocolate.
9. Plan your next trip.
You might think it's a little late to start planning a vacation, but there are probably places very close to you that you haven't even been to yet.
Explore your hometown if you can't find a cheap hotel room.
Check out my travel blog for a few tips.
10. Don't over-extend yourself.
My last and most important rule for your holiday break.
I've given you quite a few ideas here, but it is a break, after all.
Give yourself a few very important days to sleep in, catch up on your shows and reorganize your closet.
Eat Christmas cookies to your heart's content, and enjoy the fact that you don't have to go to work or school for another few days.
Merry Christmas, happy new year, happy holidays.